What's up with the Apple TV graphics?

Hey, I just signed up for a trial membership so that I could try out Zwift at my buddy’s place. He’s got a real nice setup…one of the latest KICKRs, an LG 4K OLED tv, and an AppleTV 4K. I don’t have the smart trainer, but we’re both kind-of A/V geeks and have very similar A/V setups and I’ve been thinking of purchasing either a KICKR or the Zwift Hub, which is why I wanted to try it all out.

It all worked really well, but I couldn’t get over the graphics! They were flat-out terrible. So bad, in fact, that I thought something must be set up wrong on my buddy’s A/V system. But we checked everything out and it all looked good…it’s all very straightforward: he’s running HDMI straight from his AppleTV to his 4K TV…no A/V processor or anything like that in-between. I even went to his Apple TV settings to make sure it was set to output in 4K and it sure was…4K HDR 60 Hz, and his TV indicated it was receiving a 4K HDR signal while running Zwift. So then I started messing with the Apple TV video output settings, changing from 4K to 1080p/60, 720p/60 (both HDR), and finally 480p. Although I saw distinct changes to the rendering of the menus in Zwift, and even to things like the mini map and rider list when in-world, the actual 3d-rendered world itself looked exactly the same all the way until I dropped down to 480p…basically like the app is rendering the world in 720p, regardless of whether the ATV is set to output at a higher resolution. I searched all through the app itself and couldn’t find any graphics settings, like you would in a game or something like that.

And it wasn’t even just the low resolution rendering that made everything look really bad; the world was super “flat”, with effectively no texturing, no shadows for anything that was moving, all the shapes mega polygon’d out, flat water with no movement, and everything was really, really pixellated. Even the frame rate seemed super low (like around 15-30 fps, maybe?). Basically it just looked like a bunch of partially-animated sprites slapped on top of a very flat low-res world.

Now I KNOW I’ve seen Zwift rendered way better than this, and as a matter of fact I’ve seen it watching recordings of riders’ races on YouTube on my AppleTV at home! So I know despite all the messing around I did that something must be off, but my buddy said that’s the way it always is. I figure I must be missing some in app video settings or something, but I looked all over the app and just couldn’t find anything like that.

Please help me figure out how to fix this! I actually really enjoyed the resistance dynamics that the trainer provided riding through the virtual world and all that, but man I just couldn’t tolerate the graphics. It actually reminded me a lot of playing Mario Cart on my 16-bit Atari system back in the late 80’s!

A gaming pc with a good graphics card is so much better. SDR works better than HDR on the monitors that I’ve used.

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I know next to nothing about hardware but from what I have read Apple TV is the easy to go to plug in and play option but if graphics really matter to your experience you might benefit from a purpose built PC.

I believe this link gives you differences between various hardware setups. (Click Apple TV 2022 first then click on Made This Ages Ago when in the link )

This is a very comprehensive read on best setup requirements.

Apple TV, iPad, iPhone all render the game at 720p. One of the founders of Zwift has said that they plan some improvements to ATV graphics later this year.

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The 3d world is rendered in HD and the UI is rendered in 4k on ATV 4k.


Read the zwiftinsider article linked above. I used to use Apple TV and those basic graphics are what you get. If you are happy building your own PC then you can make one for less than the cost of a new Apple TV that will get you the best graphics Zwift has to offer. Just note that even the best Zwift has to offer is not going to compare well to modern games!

Then ATV is not for you. If you want proper graphics then you need the hardware to run proper graphics.


You can’t really do anything about it - the ATV device is low powered.

It’s a little media box designed to hide behind a TV out of sight hanging from a wall and doing a number of low difficulty tasks. Running very high detail 3D games not one of them. Zwift runs a low detail profile for ATV4K

The folk running very high detail have computers with discrete GPUs:

Those are all from a Mac with a RX6600XT 8GB graphics card (not inbuilt) and fairly old Intel Xeon X5690 CPU. With the transition to metal support on Mac it stays locked at 60fps just about all the time no matter what. Note it’s not an Apple Silicon based Mac, this is an older Intel one with dedicated separate GPU, that’s key.

You could build a fairly compact sized PC to do similar. Dedicated GPU is also key for PC as well.

If you didn’t want Windows at all you could set up a Hackintosh - just be mindful of the GPU support being limited to certain types (no new Nvidia, certain AMD types). It’s a tricky path that I wouldn’t recommend.

Thanks for those who posted helpful replies. Ya, I did some digging into this over the last day and confirmed the deal with Zwift running 720p on ATV, but it appears it’s more of an issue with the “video profile” Zwift has implemented, rather than any limitation of the device itself. In fact after I posted we installed Zwift on my buddy’s Mac Mini, ran it, then screen mirrored it to his ATV and it literally looked like 1000x times better. Way higher frame rate and the world just wasn’t super cartoonie and flat like it was straight from the ATV. And we were only mirroring at 1080p, sending the video signal over WiFi, and that Mac Mini is definitely no high end gaming rig! He was quite startled by the improvement, too, but while the BT link from his trainer reached to the Mini in his office just fine, the signal from his mouse and heartrate strap was too weak and unstable, I’m sure because of the distance. But it was interesting to see the drastic difference in image quality and smoothness, and confirmed that the poor quality wasn’t so much the resolution, but more the extreme polygon’ing and lack of anything remotely akin to texturing and lighting from this century when running straight off the ATV.

I was already having difficulty justifying the $500-1200, so for me there’s no interest in the additional cost and hassle of putting together a gaming PC just to run Zwift, and having a PC and all the extra paraphernalia hanging about definitely wouldn’t fit into the living space in which I’d be using it. Someone mentioned that you can put together a great Zwift gaming PC for less than the cost of an Apple TV 4K; although it’s been a while since I’ve built a PC, it’s hard for me to imagine how you could purchase a motherboard, CPU, power supply, graphics card, RAM, case, keyboard, mouse, and cabling for $129, especially stuff that’s of “high gaming” performance like everyone mentioned is needed. But in any case I already own the latest model Apple TV 4K, so a PC build at any price would be an additional cost for me to Zwift over and above what I thought I was facing.

Anyway, thanks again to those above who offered constructive help. I’m really thankful Zwift offers the no cost trial, as it’s saved me not only the subscription but also the cost of the smart trainer purchase. I’ve got fantastic rollers and trainers that work great, and listening to music and watching TV have gotten me through hours-long sessions during the winters just fine for years, so I guess that’ll continue to do! I wasn’t expecting the latest and greatest in modern high-end gaming graphics with running Zwift off the Apple TV, but I’d honestly prefer to just look out the window or watch the paint peel on my wall than subject my eyes to what my buddy’s been looking at every day with his!


Ebay - old HP office computers are super cheap… used GPU that can run ultra… there you go! Check out the facebook group ZPCMR, Dave has a bunch of “how to’s” listed in the files of the group.

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Ya, although I’ve mentioned cost, really the bigger hurdle is that a PC box and all the associated paraphernalia just wouldn’t fit into the living space where I’d be using Zwift…beautiful large screen OLED effectively flush mounted to the wall with no wiring or anything else showing (power outlet is behind the screen and ATV is even mounted to the back, so literally nothing showing). No nearby cabinet within which to hide a console, either, and even if there was I’m sure as heck not gonna run a bunch of cabling up the wall between the TV and a PC box sitting out in the open. First World problems, I know…thought I was already set up for a friction-free Zwift implementation, and I guess I am if I could put up with what I’d be staring at, but in the end it’s not nearly the experience I was hoping for. But it’s not the end of the world for me, for sure, so no tears will be shed!

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This not just about the graphics profile.

There is a difference between rendering/computing it right on the ATV (which is weak and just 720p) and rendering it on the Mac mini (which is much more potent and 1080p) and just stream the video of it to the ATV.

That works differently, you are using the graphics capability of the Mac Mini. If I did the same with my Mac it would look better still because it’s way more powerful than the Mini

Well not in my country with new components anyway, the Apple TV 4K is AUD$249. By the time we got a CPU, ram, mainboard you’d already bust that price - that’s not even looking at a GPU. You’d have to go used. Even used GPUs are still ridiculous in price. I got an RX6600XT in store new for $100 more than someone was trying to sell a RX6600 (non XT) on eBay.

There are some very nice PC cases now in small form factors - some of them look great.

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But don’t mention Apple TV :joy:


It’s been made clear zwift either can’t optimize for apple devices or does not want to. It’s sad. Then there is the fire stick. They list it as a supported device but it won’t install. The only way is to use a screen mirror app on the fire stick and mirror from your phone. That’s literally not a suported device but they list it anyway :joy:

Where did you see support for the Fire Stick?

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Recently one of the founders of Zwift posted on Reddit to say they’re planning some Apple TV graphics improvements later this year.

Nice to see they removed the fire stick as a supported device. It was there 6 months ago.

It would be nice for better apple support but I will believe it when they actually do it. Later this year? Ya because they are to busy putting out updates that are buggy and cause issues.

Would you please post a screenshot of that? People have asked about the Fire Stick for years now, and I don’t think it has ever been on the supported devices page.

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It’s been removed from the list but it was there. I went and purchased a firestick only because I needed zwift on an old 1080p tv and it was listed as a supported device. Unless I was having a senior moment and clicked the wrong site when looking for supported devices.